Friday, August 7, 2009

Wildest Dreams Checklist: "Good Luck And Fine Quality For 10,000 Years"

Lately, I've been paying close attention to the overheard conversations of the African-Americans I randomly encounter at work, in restaurants, in stores, walking down the streets.

I'm rediscovering why I usually tune out such things.

When did we become so uncompromisingly . . . small? When did we become satisfied with living LOW- and NO-impact lives?

On one level, I suppose that this is to be expected from people who are barely making ends meet. What's the excuse for members of the so-called "talented tenth"?

Our thoughts are . . . small.
Our dreams are even smaller.
There is no ambition.
There are no grand visions of making a lasting mark during one's life.

What happened to us?

I look at this and contrast it with examples of other people who made marks that have endured for generations. People who had long-term, grand visions. Visions that were "built to last."

The next time you see a bottle of Kikkoman soy sauce, please be aware that this family-owned Japanese company has existed for 17 generations. Kikkoman started as a small, regional soy sauce business in 1630, using a recipe invented by the widow of one of the samurai of Prince Hideyori. The firm began exporting soy sauce in 1868. Centuries of Success: Lessons From the World's Most Enduring Family Businesses, pg. 27.

The next time you see a Kikkoman bottle, please be aware that the characters for the brand name "Kikkoman" can be translated as "good luck and fine quality for 10,000 years." That's quite an ambitious vision for one's business! The Mogi family also carefully considered the values that they wanted to pass on to future generations of the family and family business.

"In the late 1700s or early 1800s the Mogis established a family constitution institutionalizing their cooperative effort to concentrate talent and experience in shoyu [soy sauce] manufacture at Noda. Among other things the short document noted:

'Sincerity first and profits will follow. Neglect neither . . . Avoid luxury and cultivate simplicity and earnestness . . . Attend to your health. Eat simple foods no different than those taken by your employees . . . Twice a year call a family meeting; praise family members according to their character and not according to their profits.' "

http://www.soyinfocenter.com/HSS/kikkoman.php

Are the effects of your choices "built to last"?

Will the effects of any of your choices endure?

Are you building anything that is intended to last?

What impact will your actions have on life 17 generations from now?

14 comments:

Lorraine said...

Good evening Khadija,

This post was quite timely. Fascinating information about Kikkoman as I put down the bottle in my cupboard. I am on the case to try and find a similar black family. I can't say I know of any off hand but there has to be at least one or two in this entire nation. Right? I do take to heart the challenge to leave a legacy for 17 generations to come. I have to admit that I have only thought about my own children and possible grandchildren and being able to provide for their wellbeing. 17 generations was unimagineable, but why in the heck not? Because we don't have the values instilled that allow us to dream so big (generally). We don't think we could have the world when we are dropping out of school, becoming pregnant and continuing a vicious cycle. Who can reach for the stars when constantly bombarded with negative images and being subject to mistreatment at the hands of dbr men and women? Although you do have these individuals who are determined to get out of that madness and make it in spite of...

Thanks for yet another profound blog that definitely got me to thinking of how my daughter will know she has the ability to dream out of this world and to work diligently at whatever it is she will achieve. We have at least 17 generations to look out for here. 8 have already been descended from slaves.

Too bad, I can't have started with them, maybe some research will reveal that I have lol. But more realistically, I'll have to start with me.

Khadija said...

Lorraine,

Good Morning!

Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it.

Doing this little experiment of actually listening to the overheard conversations around me has brought back the frustration I previously felt when researching my family tree. For all PRACTICAL purposes, my family's history stops with my grandparents.

My great-grandparents***the ones I could find any documentary reference to at all***some of them were already almost mythical when I was a child. In terms of my grandparents, even then the texture of their lives was becoming totally unknown. I remember my mother taping some interviews with her mother when I was in high school.

After talking to my friends, I saw that my family's situation was not unique. Unlike most Whites, none of us had any idea whatsoever about anybody beyond our great-grandparents. For most of us, family history began with our grandparents. And even with the known names, there's very little reliable information.

And this was the situation BEFORE the total disintegration of the AA family.

[I found out in high school that my Dad had supplied me with invented, false information for family tree homework assignments when I was small. Most AA family histories are more like twigs instead of trees.

Dad didn't want me to be embarassed at school with missing blanks where some ancestors were supposed to be on the paper. Quote from Dad about supplying false information to me for grammar school family tree homework assignments: "I couldn't have MY baby girl embarassed at school."]

High school was when it first struck me how little impact most AAs generally have. On anything. At all. Most of us leave no mark whatsoever for having been here. Even our own descendants COMPLETELY forget us after 2 generations. We sink back into invisibility. Without a trace...

It's shocking when you think about it.


You said, " do take to heart the challenge to leave a legacy for 17 generations to come. I have to admit that I have only thought about my own children and possible grandchildren and being able to provide for their wellbeing. 17 generations was unimagineable, but why in the heck not?"

Yes, why not?!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

foreverloyal said...

This blog has been helpful to me, in examining myself.
I have made a few key decisions that have me living a quality life.
However, it has really been hitting me lately how little I have been doing with my situation. I waste entirely too much time on nothing, and spend alot more time reading instead of doing.
I shared earlier some of the achievements of my maternal grandparents. Two generations later, FEW of their descendants have built on their hard work and sacrifice. Looking around during the funeral at my family was just SAD, with a few wonderfully notable exceptions.
I could be and do SO much more. I've just been stagnating. I got back into some hobbies last year and started preliminary plans for a small business of my own and a novel.
The value I most need to learn and pass down is making a good plan, and then chipping away at it every day. I've had a million good ideas, but a good idea is worth nothing if it isn't implemented.

Evia said...

Khadija, to use a saying: "the journey of a million miles begins today." We can build as from THIS day and looking at yesterday should only give us all the more incentive to start building today.

With every group in history, they started building one day, at the point when a portion of them became conscious of the need to build. ALL groups have been in the ashes at some point. We are rising from ashes like the Phoenix, just as other groups have.

I just posted a comment on Faith site that it is entirely possible for AA women to build and operate powerful social and business NETWORKS that could uplift us in all ways as a group of women and add tremendous value to us, our "brand". We COULD do this if we were to STOP looking back and stop finding reasons why it won't work.

I use as my model for this idea, the Nigerian trading women in Nigeria. Many of those women are totally illiterate, but over time, some of them have become very wealthy and powerful due to them organizing themselves and starting out with a little trading stand by the side of the road selling oranges, boiled eggs, roasted peanuts, etc. Little by little they saved their money, paid their children's school fees because they strongly believe in investing in education (even though they had none) invested in other businesses and building houses that they rent out at exorbitant rates or sell. Over the last 30 years, those trading women. as a group, have become powerful in Nigeria. In some cases, they influence government policy or dictate it.

And let me repeat, many of them are totally illiterate. My previous mother-in-law was one of those women. She couldn't speak English and I couldn't speak her language, so she and I did a lot of smiling at each other. LOL! But she was a savvy trading woman.

A critical difference between Nigerian women and AA women is that they are THERE for each other in most cases. They support each other. They support their men too (because there IS definitely reciprocity), but they also support each other as women to the extent that they can. That's a part of their culture that I love. The things I've seen them do for each other is nothing short of sublime.

Of course, there're some of the common issues between women because we're all human, but I, as an AA woman, STILL get a lot more support from Nigerian women than I do from AA women.

For ex., I know that anything that I'm selling or doing, I already know that once I let Nigerian/African women know that I'm doing it, I already KNOW that a typical African woman will buy it or support me much more so than a typical AA women. For ex., when my blog went private and I charged 33 cents a day for admission, nasty, small-minded AA women really showed their butts about that, whereas I got notes of support mostly from Nigerian and other African women. When I was selling items on Cafe Press, it was Nigerian women or those with Nigerian names who mostly bought those items.

My point is that today is to be used to go forward. I know we don't have the culture that Nigerians have, but we still must copy from others just like they've copied from us and go forward with the knowledge that it's only our minds that are holding us back. Nothing else.

Evia said...

Part 2

My point is that today is to be used to go forward.

I never met her, but I've heard a lot about my paternal great-grandmother who my grandmother said was a slave. I grew up down south in Alabama not far from the plantation where she lived her life. My family there never moved far away from the plantation of their relatives. They still live there keep the grave sites clean, and when I go there, that's where I go.

My great-grandmother loved education. My grandmother loved education and this was passed down to me or the love of learning. Both of them were very much "forward-thinkers" and my grandmother was a thinker, planner, do-er all day long. She accomplished a lot in her life, living under Jim Crow. Guess what? I'm also a thinker-planner-doer all day long and I'll be darned if I'm going to ever allow this little thing they call racism to stop me from doing what I want to do. I will publish my books and send them into the future. That's all I want to do at this point.

This is why I get TIRED of hearing other AAs whining about racism. This flimsy stuff is NOTHING. I could care less whether a white person or a bm ever likes me. I'm going to do what I want to do whether either of them likes me or not. I always have.

Yet so many AA women these days are paralyzed at the thought that a bm won't like them or will get mad at them. NOTHING!!! I'm just happy that my grandmother didn't live to see us AA women in the sorry shape we're in now. It would kill her to see us now.

Khadija said...

ForeverLoyal,

It's extremely easy to become stagnant when you're comfortable in your life. That's why it's called "complacency." LOL! The vast majority of people drift through their lives. I know I've drifted at various points.

Drifting is the path of least resistance. It takes mental discipline to do something more purposeful than drifting.
_____________________

Evia,

You said, "I just posted a comment on Faith site that it is entirely possible for AA women to build and operate powerful social and business NETWORKS that could uplift us in all ways as a group of women and add tremendous value to us, our "brand". We COULD do this if we were to STOP looking back and stop finding reasons why it won't work."

I agree. I've recently decided to take a firmer stand, and more harsh tone against those BW who engage in "heckler" behaviors whenever somebody wants to seriously discuss action strategies. At first, I thought the hecklers were simply confused. Now, I see that they're (sometimes unwitting) adjuncts to the Internet Ike Turners.

Like I said on Sara's blog, a failing idea will fail all on its own. It doesn't require mockery or nitpicking in order to fail. We can all tell the difference between thinking through an idea, legitimate dissent, and heckling. Time out on the BF hecklers.

You said, "I use as my model for this idea, the Nigerian trading women in Nigeria. Many of those women are totally illiterate, but over time, some of them have become very wealthy and powerful due to them organizing themselves and starting out with a little trading stand by the side of the road selling oranges, boiled eggs, roasted peanuts, etc. Little by little they saved their money, paid their children's school fees because they strongly believe in investing in education (even though they had none) invested in other businesses and building houses that they rent out at exorbitant rates or sell."

I've watched a similar progression with the White ethnic/Latino fruit sellers. When I started high school, some of these folks were literally standing in the middle of the street (on the yellow line) selling plastic baggies of mixed fruit to commuters on their way to work in the mornings. Fast forward 30 years later, and they own multiple produce STORES.

You said, "My point is that today is to be used to go forward. I know we don't have the culture that Nigerians have, but we still must copy from others just like they've copied from us and go forward with the knowledge that it's only our minds that are holding us back. Nothing else."

YES!

You said, "This is why I get TIRED of hearing other AAs whining about racism. This flimsy stuff is NOTHING. I could care less whether a white person or a bm ever likes me. I'm going to do what I want to do whether either of them likes me or not. I always have."

Yep. I think of the racist madness my Dad went through going to law school and practicing "back in the day." The stuff that folks are whining about now is mostly NOTHING compared to even what our parents had to be bothered with.

You said, "Yet so many AA women these days are paralyzed at the thought that a bm won't like them or will get mad at them. NOTHING!!! I'm just happy that my grandmother didn't live to see us AA women in the sorry shape we're in now. It would kill her to see us now."

I hear you.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Imam Isa Mateen said...

Just wanted to thank you for this inspiring post! Keep it coming.

Khadija said...

Imam Isa Mateen,

As Salaam Alaikum!

Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it.

I took a quick tour of your blog (I will come back to read through the archives), and I want to thank you for several things that I immediately noticed:

(1) Thank you for speaking out about "The Amazing Barack's" silence during Israel's kidnapping and unlawful detention of former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney while she was on a humanitarian mission.

(2) Thank you for speaking out about the immigrant Muslims' general betrayal of Imam Siraj Wahhaj in his hour of need. I had no idea that he had been ill; much less needed fundraisers to cover the medical bills for his cancer treatment.

Considering the HUGE sums of money (probably millions of dollars over the years) that Imam Siraj raised for these immigrants over the course of DECADES, they could have come together to pay off a bill of $125,000 within a matter of hours, if they wanted to. This was despicable. But perhaps it will serve as a lesson to those AA Muslims who are still catering to immigrant Muslims.

Alhamdulilah for Imam Siraj's reported recovery.

THANK YOU for raising your voice.

Wa Salaam,
Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Sister Seeking, Miriam said...

Salaam Khadija,

I thought these meditations from Dr. Wayne Dyer were perfect for this new blog entry:

www.drwaynedyer.com

It’s too big:
I think only about what I can do now by thinking small I accomplish great things.

I’m too old (or not old enough):
I am an infinite being. The age of my body has no bearing on what I do or who I am.

The rules won’t let me:
I live my life according to divine rules.


I’m not smart enough:
I am a creation of the divine mind; all is perfect, and I am a genius in my own right.

I don’t have the energy:
I feel passionately about my life, and this passion fills me with excitement and energy.

It’s my personal family history:
I live in the present moment by being grateful for all of my life experiences as a child.

I’m too busy:
As I un clutter my life, I free myself to answer the callings of my soul.

I’m too scared:
I can accomplish I put my mind to because I know that I am never alone.

No one will help me:
The right circumstances and the right people are already here and will show up on time.

It’s going to be risky:
Being myself involves no risks, it is my ultimate truth, and I live it fearlessly.

It will take a long time:
I have infinite patience when it comes to fulfilling my destiny

There will be family drama:
I would rather loathed for who I am than loved for who I am not.

I don’t deserve it:
I am a divine creation, a piece of God; Therefore, I cannot be undeserving.

It’s not my nature:
My essential nature is perfect and faultless. It is to this nature I return.

I can’t afford it:
I am connected to an unlimited source of abundance.

It has never happened before
I am willing to attract all that I desire, beginning here, and now.
I’m not strong enough:

I have access to unlimited assistance. My strength comes from my connection to my source of being.

Khadija said...

Wa Alaikum As Salaam, SisterSeeking/Miriam!

Thanks for the info!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Asian culture has been around so long that a family having 17 generations is not a surprise. I'm not really sure what many of our could have done to secure their legacies that included being conquered and wiped out. I do think about the families that rose to prominence in the US. They engaged in a lot of nefarious activities but they also set up many cultural contributions as they went "legit". I'm thinking about how the Kennedy family has created Peace Corp and Special Olympics. The Fords have foundations. The Cosbys gave $20M to Spellman. There's really nothing we can't do now, but we have shake off the shackles of apathy, criminality and all the naysayers and excusers.

Khadija said...

Faith,

You said, "There's really nothing we can't do now, but we have shake off the shackles of apathy, criminality and all the naysayers and excusers."

Exactly!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

jesus said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Sara

http://smallbusinessgrant.info

Khadija said...

Jesus/Sara,

Thank you for your kind words about the blog; I truly appreciate it.

For future reference, I let it go this time but I generally don't publish comments with links (especially spam-type links).

Peace, blessings and solidarity.